By David Cohn
In July, I wrote about Stuart Scott’s moving ESPY speech, and how that speech has inspired and strengthened cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families. While Mr. Scott had built a storied career as one of ESPN’s most recognizable sports anchors, his finest moment came on that ESPY stage, when he bravely detailed his fight with cancer, while also offering words of encouragement and strength to cancer patients everywhere.
“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live. So live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you,” Mr. Scott had said that night.
For cancer patients, including relatives in my own family, who face their greatest fears in their struggle with a terrible disease, Scott’s presence on that stage gave them hope, that they could continue to live their lives and chase their dreams, even while facing an immensely daunting challenge.
On Sunday, the sports world lost Mr. Scott and his infectious personality; however, on Sunday, in his own words, Scott beat cancer by how he lived, why he lived and in the manner in which he lived.
In addition to his invaluable role as a voice in the fight against cancer, Mr. Scott has also inspired me for his accomplishments in sports broadcasting. As a child of the 90s, I grew up with Mr. Scott and his humorous phrases and jokes. Scott became my favorite SportsCenter anchor because he always made me smile and laugh. Therefore, you can say that my passion of sports, the extent of which can amuse my fellow co-workers at The Daily at times, was formed, in part, by watching Scott’s engaging takes on the sports news of the day.
Later, when I became a broadcaster at KZSU for Stanford softball and football, I can say that I learned an important lesson from Scott about engaging people with my commentary: Be yourself. For me, in the well-meant words of my friend and KZSU alum Sam Fisher, this meant being a “Stanford homer,” or to put it another (my) way, to try to hopefully commentate through a lens of positivity, while recognizing the significant efforts of our student-athletes both on and off the field.
In any case, I learned from Mr. Scott that it is impossible to please everyone in your intended audience in broadcasting, so the best course of action is always to be true to yourself and let your natural personality shine through. In turn, whether you liked or did not like Mr. Scott’s style on SportsCenter, the one thing that you could not say about Mr. Scott was that he was fake; his music and pop culture references were always derived from the things that were important to him, whether we all shared those interests or not.
In his life, Stuart Scott accomplished the rare feat of leaving an indelible mark on two different groups of people; for Scott’s ESPN colleagues and his contemporaries in sports broadcasting and sports journalism, Mr. Scott’s insistence on utilizing a distinct presentation behind the SportsCenter desk helped allow others to feel comfortable using their creativity and wit in their work. To so many of us in this field, Mr. Scott was a role model, whose passion and positivity we will never be able to fully emulate.
However, what is even more significant than his accomplishments as a journalist and anchor is that Stuart Scott’s memory and legacy will live on through the poignant and beautiful words of his 2014 ESPY speech; I know that his speech will continue to inspire people to raise money and awareness in the struggle against cancer, and that the speech will also continue to encourage cancer patients and survivors in their fight against this horrific disease.
As such, on that day, Mr. Scott wasn’t a sports anchor; he was, in his way, a life saver. For that, this is something that we can all say “boo-yah”.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.